Particularly if it smells extraordinarily strong of 'let's see if she can take it'. Please don't get me wrong, it's not a complaint; I knew that with my constant bashing of the self-published books that failed to make me sit up, I was ripe for some payback. And it happened. Finally.
I'm aware there is some sabotaging of self-published books going on, and I've been 'victim' of that beforehand when my books were tagged inappropriately, but I confronted the culprit and he apologised, saying something got on his nerves that day, then removed the tag. Never had any beef with that guy, but he obviously didn't know how else to get rid of his frustration and targeted me.
This time, someone has left a review on one of my books. Something I said would happen. And since I mention No Wings Attached in the recently released rant, it was the one that got picked. Despite it looking like an honest review, it ticks quite a few boxes for me to suspect payback.
1. It's not a verified purchase and I haven't sold any on Smashwords, and very few on Amazon.
2. It uses the same wordings I use in Rage against the Indie
3. The person hasn't reviewed any books, bar one, then quickly wrote a few on the same day as my review came in.
4. The person claims to have turned the pages (presumably until the end), but complaints about no paranormal/supernatural happenings. (The wish consultant is not the supernatural human being I refer to in the pitch.)
5. The review was immediately voted as helpful, despite my not promoting the book a lot. All other reviews have suddenly been marked as unhelpful. Nobody had ever bothered with them beforehand. At least not the newer ones.
Here's the review:
I dicovered this title through the 'customers who viewed this item, also viewed..' sector on a novel I was interested in, and I foolishly chose this one. The only reason I'm giving this novel two stars and not one is because I was drawn in by a comfortable writing style and interesting premise. This, however, was a lie. The storyline went downhill so fast that I was tearing my hair out and begging the characters to stop cooking and talking and just start doing something. *Anything*. But I was sorely disappointed when the main two characters did little more than um and ah about their feelings. Okay, that's fine. I can expect little else from a romance, after all. Too bad about the use of the words 'supernatural powers' in the description. Highly misleading, considering there is nothing super about a guy who grants the odd wish, but there you go.
I can overlook a terrible plot. This novel was crafted in an interesting way, following Celia and Tom as narrators by giving them both a voice every few pages or so. But wait, who am I reading about? Yes, it says the narrator at the start of their narration, but what if a reader leaves partway through a chapter? Are we to go back to the start? You'd think that the characters would be easy to tell apart. That their voices would be different. No chance. They might as well be the same person, which shows a serious lack of perspective from this author.
Moving on. I could write about every flaw of this novel, bit that would most probably take longer than the production of No Wings Attached. Instead, I'll move onto the most infuriating aspect; punctuation. There is a massive overuse of commas, and they were so extreme that I actually threw my kindle down in frustration multiple times, unable to read on. It made me read in a very disconnected way and, coupled with poor sentence structure, I was made to feel as though I was reading in an unfamiliar language. Words had been dumped out of order, commas littered each sentence, and typos would crop up unexpectedly.
Please heed my warning. My rating really is too kind, as I have never before read something as terrible as this. I feel cheated. The premise promised something that was never delivered. The only reason I kept turning pages was to ensure my money wasn't wasted, but I can say now that it was. More importantly, my time was wasted, and a small chunk of sanity was lost along the way.
To be honest it raised merely a grin, but shows that how the Indie scene really is. Readers complain (rightly so) about fake praise, and this is the other end to the debacle: fake slagging off books. It can do massive harm. Even though readers say they can tell a fake negative review, I'm not sure one can always distinguish. In the case of No Wings Attached, you just need to read the other reviews to get your clues and write something up. I also have an idea who this person might be, because the voice sounds familiar.
Just to be clear: I'm not offended. I am bold with my view on self-published books and I've made some enemies along the way. You've got to bleed if you want to win a battle.
A quick plea: DO NOT act on the review. Don't go and attack the person, don't vote unhelpful, don't do anything, please. I'm not complaining, it's not a whiny post, it's just a matter-of-fact-post. I blog about self-publishing and the Indie scene behind the scenes, and this is just an example. I'm sure there will be more coming my way, at least I know my writing's not the reason.